I see it all the time on the home improvement shows. It's practically
a ritual. First they discuss what they are going to do, then they
begin the "demo". How? By picking up a sledghammer and knocking out a
4" x 5" piece of sheetrock. Next thing you know, the space is empty.
I'm curious. Is sledgehammering sheetrock into bite-size pieces and
atomizing the rest into a giant cloud really the efficient way to go
It seems to me that there must be a way to take out larger pieces of
sheetrock rather than pulverizing it and then shoveling up the debris.
How do pros typically do it?
Can't claim to be a pro, but having worked with a few alleged pros,
routinely grab a sledge, and knock the board into manageable-size
quickly. Operative word: manageable. They really don't notice mess they
Redoing multiple rooms in my own house, I use saber-saw to cut along
studs (shallow cuts to avoid cables) and cut board into relatively
pieces to facilitate hauling out. With minimum overall dust-cloud.
dust gets _everywhere_.
I've done lots of drywall removal and never used a sledge.
Typically, poke a fist sized hole with piece of wood, whatever, and just
grab the edge of the drywall and pull.
With a little working back and forth, you can get fasteners to burrow on
through and fairly large pieces of drywall
will come off. Not unusual to get half a sheet or so to come off in one
Same here. Worst room I ever done was the kitchen (10x14) in the old
house I bought. Someone apparently thought they were saving money.
The room was rocked in salvaged chunks of sheetrock on shiplap boards.
I don't think there was one piece bigger than 12 x 18". He spent more
on nails and mud than he would have on new rock. It took hours just
pulling and driving the nails down flush after yanking the stuff.
Using a sledgehammer is a great idea if you're doing demolition. As in
taking the whole building down and it don't matter if you mess up wiring or
pipes. Otherwise, I don't see how you can pound stuff and not break what's
inside the walls. Stuff you have to then replace.
I'm sure they're just flexing their muscles for a good camera shot.
Besides, would YOU risk hitting a pipe, wire, gas line, live yellowjacket
nest with that sledgehammer?
In the limited amount of drywall work that I've done, as in dismantling, I
use a shingling hammer - hatchet on one end to punch the drywall and the
hammer to finish the job if the hatchet would make too much of a mess.
Then like the others say, I use my hands to pull the drywall off.
No, actually. That's one of the reasons that I expressed the
I have not taken down any of the walls in my house, which is just as
well since they are plaster. But I have penetrated many of the
surfaces: plaster interior and brick exterior walls as well as
floors/ceilings. In the process I have um, "located" pipes and other
obstructions more often than probability should allow.
What amazes me is when I hear that someone has actually drilled or cut
through a heat or water pipe. I'm just the average weekend home
handyman but I've never found it less than obvious that I've hit
something. The steady "thrum" and whine of the bit cutting through
wood flooring and subfloor all of a sudden becomes
A friend of mine went postal after some personal problems. He fired off
three shots inside his house. He hit one hot water copper pipe, one cold
water copper pipe, and a run of Romex.
What are the chances of that?
By the standard formulas of probability I suppose you'd have to divide
the surface area with sensitive stuff behind it by the total surface
area of the walls, floors and ceilings of your house, yielding a
pretty small probability for each shot.
But that neglects the properties of Murphy's law, which suggests that
the chance is much higher. I'd like to add to the many corollaries of
that law one of my own:
"The chance of something bad happening is proportional to the square
of the stupidity of your action. "
Twice as stupid = FOUR times as likely. Three times as stupid? NINE
times as likely. Ten times as stupid can make even the most improbable
outcome a near certainty. Firing off a gun in your own house has to be
in that category.
Well, the odds of hitting anything are pretty low,
but if you put three shots in roughly the same place,
and that place happens to be a convenient spot to run
'stuff' up and down the wall, then the odds of hitting
more than one thing aren't much worse than the odds of
hitting the first thing.
Plaster and lathe walls are best taken down by shoving
a broadsword behind the lathe and prying. If you don't
have a broadsword, a 4' gooseneck crowbar works almost
as well, but a swordblade is skinnier and flexes better.
You're using wimpy homeowner tools. With a real power drill,
the noise changes, but it's too late to do anything about it
because you're already through.
I keep mine with my chain mail suit, but my wife keeps putting them
away where I can't find them. :)
For the incident that's clearest in my memory I was using a Makita
1/2" drill and a Greenlee "Naileater" auger with an extension. Another
time I was using the same drill with a 3/4" x 12" masonry bit. Both
hit galvanized pipe though, not some thin copper.
But I find that I can easily feel it as I go from one material into
another, especially if it's say, from subfloor or brick into *air*.
When that happens I back off on the muscle until I hit the next
Chuckle. Noticed that myself, especially on some of the shows that no longer
seem to be in production, or at least aren't carried around here- Hometime,
or that show hosted by one the former female Hometime hosts, or Vila's Sears
infomercial that he tried after TOH. The 'before' rooms, especially kitchens
and bathrooms, usually looked fine to me, albeit a tad dated in some cases,
and perfectly servicable. The afters are usually some trendy exercise in
But I'm weird- I <like> late 60s/early 70s interiors.
That's all for effect. It is supposed to make them look like big
tough men. The right way is to use a sawsall and cut the studs at the
same time, unless of course the studs are staying. Then a regular
hammer will suffice and is much easier to handle, or cut the sections
between studs with sawsall.
Watch Holmes on Homes sometime. They punch holes if necessary, and
then pull. They'll often get pieces larger than half a sheet off in
one piece. Much faster and less mess to clean up.
The other reno shows use the sledgehammer stuff to add some gratuitous
It's incredibly annoying to see the occasional idiot take sledgehammers to
perfectly good items that could be easily, more quickly, and with much less
bother removed without destroying them. And resold for a few bucks or
Eg: demolishing modern cabinetry with a sledge. Why? It'd be faster
to pull out a screwdriver and take them out. Nooo, it's so much more
satisfying to take 5 times as long making a mess that will take another
5 times as long to clean up.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
You got that right. I reuse anything possible. An old kitchen
cabinet makes a great tool cabinet for a garage, etc.
Rather than smash studs, I cut them off just above the nails and reuse
them. A 2x4 is a USEFUL item no matter what.
Sledge hammers are for breaking up concrete and installing railroad
spikes. I see no reason to EVER use a sledge hammer inside the house
unless the cement basement floor is being replaced.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.